Takeaway: Right Brained creative thinking is the basis for the new economy (and you are less likely to have your job off-shored).
I like Daniel Pink. His book Drive (Bookwi.se review) on how to motivate employees was very good. I have watched videos of him speaking and in general like his style of Business Psychology books.
But I was not excited about this book. I almost stopped listening several times (and it is only just over 6 hours on audio). I actually missed the last 30 minutes because of a problem with my audiobook player and I did not feel like downloading the file again.
Pink’s point I think is basically right. In the past, left brain analytical thinking has been dominant in the business world. But increasingly as the economy moves toward a knowledge economy, right brain thinking is more valued. His first chapter summarizes the problem as Abundance, Automation and Asia. We are no longer in an economy where we are after the basics to sustain life. So we value creativity and design (abundance). Computers are good at left brain thinking, so automation is increasingly able to do many of the routine or rule based work that was a staple of our work force. Those activities that are more advanced that what computers can do, but still able to be done from afar, are being shipped off to cheaper labor markets like India and China (Asia).
So I think he has diagnose the problem, but he added very little to the analysis that is not already in Tom Friedman’s The World is Flat or a variety of other books.
What he is adding to the genre is trying to teach people how to be more right brained. He believes that people can learn to be more right brained. So much of the book is trying to teach us to do more right brained activities (laugh, tell stories, play, seek after meaning, have empathy, string together disparate ideas).
These things are all fine, but they really didn’t interest me all that much. In general, I am not sure of who the audience of this book is supposed to be. Many right brained thinkers might pick it up to encourage themselves that they are pursuing the right direction. They will like the first chapter but the instruction will probably not interest them. People that value left brain thinking probably won’t pick up the book and probably won’t get much out of the instruction.
I might have liked it more if I had not just read Shop Class as Soul Craft. Matthew Crawford talked about a lot of similar ideas from a very different perspective. Interestingly they both used several of the same illustrations. But Crawford was focused on doing what you find meaningful and enjoyable. Pink seems to be trying to help people re-create themselves and that is a much harder job.
I picked up this book for only $5 on audiobook. So I don’t feel cheated. But I did not get much out of it. If you are going to buy it, it is still on sale for audio and I would recommend that. It is clearly not worth the $13 for the kindle edition.